Cork oak (Quercus suber) pasture near Arcos de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain.

Plant of the Month: Cork

Why is cork so strongly associated with bottle stoppers? The answer goes back centuries.
Advertisement for Ayer's Sarsaparilla

Plant of the Month: Sarsaparilla

From an early modern treatment for syphilis to Saturday-morning cartoons, the meaning and significance of the plant has transformed through time and space.
Jacques Cartier at Hochelaga engraving from A popular history of the United States: from the first discovery of the western hemisphere by the Northmen, to the end of the first century of the union of the states; preceded by a sketch of the prehistoric period and the age of the mound builders

Plant of the Month: Tree of Life

Indigenous people in North America used the conifer as an effective cure for scurvy during cold winters.

Plant of the Month: Cordyline

Plantfluencers? Back in the nineteenth century, it was the dazzling leaves of cordyline that set trends in domestic style.
Fuchsia

Plant of the Month: Fuchsia

Too popular for its own good? The career of a flower so powerfully beautiful, fashion would inevitably declare it over.
Cinnamomum verum

Plant of the Month: Cinnamon

Of early modern medicinal monopolies and the nature of a "true" product of empire.
Detail from the recently rediscovered Seldon Map from the Bodleian Library (

Plant of the Month: Agarwood

Agarwood has long been prized for its olfactory splendor. Its essential oil is even known as liquid gold today.
bottom half of a venus flytrap

Plant of the Month: Venus Flytrap

The carnivorous plant, native to the Carolinas, has beguiled botanists and members of the public alike since the eighteenth century.

Plant of the Month: Cascarilla

Epidemics revive old remedies and accelerate experimentation with new ones.
On the left, Heliconia tarumaensis Barreiros (with yellow bracts); on the right, Heliconia acuminata L.C. Richard (with yellow and red bracts). Dumbarton Oaks Rare Book Collection.

Plant of the Month: Heliconia

Heliconias can distinguish among pollinators like hummingbirds and respond selectively to their visits.